Granted it wasn’t the greatest display that you are likely to see, but what matters is that Arsenal secured a vital away win and all three points to send them to the top of their group in the Champion’s League thanks to a late strike in stoppage time by substitute Aaron Ramsey who was assisted by fellow substitute Gervinho.
The tie looked destined for a stalemate as it lacked any kind of quality on attack with each team’s defence easily dealing with most attempted threats at goal, but in the last quarter of an hour Arsenal applied a little more pressure on a attack which eventually paid off as the Marseillie defence was finally broken down at the back-end of stoppage time.
The win means that we are virtually guaranteed a spot in the last 16 with Olympiakos securing victory against Borussia Dortmund. Hopefully our second consecutive win will go some way to restoring some confidence and pave the way for some more wins in coming weeks. No doubt it will be helpful after tough fixtures coming up against Stoke, Bolton (Carling Cup) and Chelsea.
On the tie itself there is nothing really exciting to report. Jenkinson got himself into dangerous positions on the flank but his crosses simply don’t suit Robin’s style of play in comparison to someone like Chamakh or Bendtner who pose a strong aerial threat. It was odd to see a game predicted to be high scoring by so many be a game where a stalemate seem like the destined result, but alas our supersub Ramsey came through just before the death.
The last thing that must be noted is the rare event of an Arsenal clean-sheet away in Europe, which the gunners have had to wait 18 away matches for in the Champion’s League. Much credit must be given to French defender Laurent Koscielny who had an excellent game in the heart of defence. The confidence boost should prove useful for the upcoming tie against Stoke who will pose a significant aerial threat at the weekend.
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on the late victory…
We left it very late but we had a difficult start. We lost some balls in the first half due to the fact Marseille pressed us well.
They didn’t find their fluency but in the second half we took over and I don’t think Marseille were dangerous at all [after half-time]. Marseille defended very well but you could see in the last 15 minutes we created some chances and were rewarded because we kept going and got an important victory.
on the potential to win the group…
We’ve made a little step forward but we have to be humble. We are a team who must continue to grow and we have to show that. the next game at home against Marseille is very important.”
on growing with confidence…
Yes it will help us but if you look back last five or six games you will see we only have one defeat. We are slowly getting there – that will help tonight.
on Carl Jenkinson’s injury…
He has a knee problem. He overstretched his knee and we will check that tomorrow.
on Aaron Ramsey’s impact…
It was a great finish, you see Ramsey in front of goal and you know you have a good chance to score. He is a goalscorer.
I do not want to overplay him. I have seen in my mind that he had been injured for a year – Wilshere played a lot last year [and is now injured]. I try to be a bit more cautious when I can.
on the second half improvement…
I felt like we needed to be patient and intelligent. You could see our midfield had experience – we didn’t make stupid mistakes and we didn’t play stupid balls. It’s an important win but you take any win away from home in the Champions League.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Santos
Walcott Van Persie (c) Arshavin
Wojciech Szczesny | 6.5: Unusually the young Pole was hardly called into action with very few clear-cut chances coming for the home team. Did all that was required of him, which was little.
Carl Jenkinson | 6.5: The Finnish international held himself well up against Ayew and also managed to get in dangerous positions down the flank, although the crosses seldom troubled the Marseille defence due to our lack of an aerial threat.
PerMertesacker | 6.5: Again positioning was a strong aspect of the German’s performance, but at times seemed uncomfortable by the quick feet of Remy and Valbuena with his distribution also suspect in the first half at times. Was excellent at nullifying the aerial threat.
Laurent Koscielny | 8.0: The Frenchman is becoming a beast in Europe. Positioning was excellent, made great interceptions and blocks and deservedly got man of the match.
Andre Santos | 6.0: The Brazilian looks completely comfortable in possession, but on defence he seemed a little nervous at times and also seems to lack match fitness after looking completely out of gas at the end of the first half. Good to see he improved after the break.
Alex Song | 6.0: Uncharacteristic by Song who gave a number of cheap fouls away as well as possession. Improved the second half though and began to distribute more effectively and also help out defence when needed.
Mikel Arteta | 5.5: The Spaniard had a tidy performance without having any real assertion on the match. Showcased his ability to distribute the ball effectively, but one feels he needs to have more input on attack.
Tomas Rosicky | 6.0: The Czech tried to add pace to our attack, but faced a hard time against the likes of Diarra. What was good to see was his willingness to get back after losing possession. Great work-rate.
Theo Walcott | 4.5: Disappointing from the Englishman. Used his pace to great effect at times but failed to get his final ball passed the first man on multiple occasions. Was wasteful when gifted the chance to open the scoring after N’Koulou handed him possession in the area after a mistake.
Andrei Arshavin | 4.0: A night to forget for the Russian, who tried hard but failed at everything he tried. It is a shame after he earned this chance after he had a great cameo against the weekend against Sunderland.
Robin van Persie | 5.5: It was a quiet game for Robin, who not for the first time looked isolated up front. Had a good chance late in the game but was denied well by Mandanda.
- Notable Substitutions
Johan Djourou | 7.0: I have to admit I groaned with agony when Djourou replaced Jenkinson, but to my delight the Swiss defender had a relatively solid game at right-back delivering the cross that set-up the opportunity for the goal in stoppage time.
Gervinho | 6.0: The Ivorian performed better than both Andrei and Theo, but still has lapses in the final third of the pitch. Needs to improve his final ball.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: The Welshman proved to be the supersub, firing home the winner late in stoppage time and securing us three points.